How to Debate

by Luke Muehlhauser on December 3, 2009 in Debates,How-To,Quotes

sabio lantz quote

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Thackray December 3, 2009 at 9:49 pm


(oh the irony!)


Summa December 3, 2009 at 11:25 pm

“Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.” – Leonardo DaVinci.

A lesson for many an atheist–particularly Christopher Hitchens, whose entire shtick is merely a cheap cabaret act of one liner put-downs, pompous witticisms, and narcissistic up-chucking of someone else’s material. If it weren’t for his martini dry wit and cantankerous swagger, the grand wizard of atheism would be just another blogger looking for a book deal. Goes to show, charisma (or is that Chrisma?) is everything. He sure didn’t get to where he is with his looks..


Joe Christian December 3, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Tell that to Christopher Hitchens (The Undisputed King of Caricature), and Dan Barker (Prince of Caricature)


Summa December 4, 2009 at 12:17 am

Proust said: “The highest praise of God is the unbelief of a scholar who is sure that the perfection of the world makes the existence of gods unnecessary.”

Hitchens is one of the greatest proofs of God’s existence, not to mention compelling testimonial that God indeed has a rich sense of humor. To many great contemporary minds that will never have the opportunity–nor, in many cases, the inclination–to debate Hitchens, he is the Weird Al Yankovich of atheism. That is, he can get his songs on the charts, but none of them are his own creations. He may be able to pass that off as talent to those who haven’t any talent of their own, but the real musicians see him for the circus act he really is.

Guess it all comes down to one’s aspirations.


Bill Maher December 4, 2009 at 12:30 am

Sry for engaging in a dick showing contest with Bebok. I realize whoever gets in the last word wins noting because we are both tards for arguing in the internet in the first place instead of accomplishing something constructive. It wont happen again.


Bill Maher December 4, 2009 at 1:53 am

Summa, he is English. What did you expect :-P


Mike aka MonolithTMA December 4, 2009 at 5:55 am

I like it.


Eneasz December 4, 2009 at 9:49 am

This quote assumes that the purpose of debate is to find the truth. Maybe this is the case in private, but no public debate has this as its goal. A public debate is a sports event, and the goal is (first) to entertain and (second) to win. This is why believers (who obviously know better) still watch Ray Comfort/Kirk Cameron. They’re idiotic, but entertaining. And this is why atheists still watch Hitchens. He doesn’t engage in a fair fight to find the truth, but damn does he put on a good show! :)


Lee A. P. December 4, 2009 at 10:01 am

So is calling your opponents stupid shit heads effective or not?


Reginald Selkirk December 4, 2009 at 3:39 pm

“Jane, you ignorant slut, …”


Derrida December 5, 2009 at 7:55 am

Charitable interpretations get you to the truth. Ridicule kicks people out of their slumber.


John W. Loftus December 6, 2009 at 4:51 am

Eneasz: This quote assumes that the purpose of debate is to find the truth. Maybe this is the case in private, but no public debate has this as its goal. A public debate is a sports event, and the goal is (first) to entertain and (second) to win.   

Couldn’t have said it better. One might as well say that lawyers should not seek to win their cases too, or that a boxer shouldn’t seek to win a fight but rather help his opponent be a better fighter.

Hogwash. It’s kill or be killed. ;-)


lukeprog December 6, 2009 at 5:21 pm

John and Eneasz,

I don’t actually disagree with either of you. The purpose of an hour-long “debate event” really is to win. What I take from the above is in the context of the debate between, for example, atheists and theists, which lasts many lifetimes.


Nick Barrowman December 6, 2009 at 7:31 pm

Perhaps the quote from Lantz is more about dialogue than debate. Or perhaps dialectic, a word that seems to sit somewhere between dialogue and debate. (Unfortunately it seems that the word dialectic is used in quite a number of different ways, including those of Hegel and Marx which strike me as nonsense.)


lukeprog December 6, 2009 at 7:40 pm




danielg December 11, 2009 at 12:29 am
danielg December 11, 2009 at 12:31 am

Oh, and this is a bit more distantly related:

10 Ways Darwinists Help Intelligent Design


lukeprog December 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm


Cool links!


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